Hi there everyone, Welcome to my session I’m not Neil Armstrong……. I was born into a minister’s home and learned the importance of catchy titles from my father so my title today is in honour of him. The title does in fact describe the journey I have been on since I discovered Web 2.0 back in 2007. Plus the fact that I clearly remember watching in scratchy black and white television in french Neil Armstrong taking the first step on the moon everything seemed to fit together.
For those of you who prefer a more straight forward title we can use My Journey to Global Collaboration. We are going to take a look at my journey of discovery that has led me to many places both in the physical and cyber worlds and for the this particular time presenting online at this amazing conference. This presentation will start out chronological but will then move into the different aspects of discovery. As I was thinking back over the past number of years I found it difficult to follow a direct path. Think of a mind map with spokes coming out of the center and you will have a better feel for where we are going.With that said let me reintroduce myself. My name is Heather Davis though if you want my legal name I am Enid Heather Laura Reddaway Davis and I was born in Kelvington Saskatchewan. But I don’t use that except on my birth certificate and so I am Heather Davis from Brantford, Ontario. I actually have not lived there in over 20 years but that is where my family is so that is home. If you look at the little red arrow on the map of Canada you will see the area that I visit when I go home. I am about an hours drive from Toronto or if you go another direction from Niagara Falls. Buffalo and Detroit are the two places where we cross the border into the US.
I have been a teacher since 1974 in both the US and Canada but in August 2004 my life took a different direction when I became an international teacher and accepted a position at Yew Chung International School of Beijing. For eight years I served as first a grade 4 teacher for five years and then the last three as a grade 3 teacher. It was here that I discovered my passion for technology from an education standpoint. This picture is actually part of the Chinese New Years’ Celebration at the school in the Quad that happened every year.
In August of this year I moved to Guatemala City and took up my dream job as Technology Integration Specialist for Grades 2-5 at the American School of Guatemala. This school is incredible and is on one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever seen. The weather in Guatemala City is Spring like all year round. We have just come out of the rainy season and are entering the dry season. After eight years in Beijing I love the greenery, the ability to walk on the grass and especially real blue skies.My mandate at the school is to teach the teachers. We began an iPad initiative last year and this year it is incorporated across the Elementary school. At the moment that initiative is my main focus though I also work with the teachers to create projects that will incorporate technology authentically in the classroom. That is a over used phrase and there are different definitions for what educators think it means but for me it is using the iPad as a tool to help our students and teachers work in a creative way to develop understanding of the curriculum that is required.Anyway, this is where I am at the present moment but we need to go back in time to what is the beginning. Not all the way back to 1968 when Neil Armstrong took his “one small step but back to my first small step.”
This picture was taken in Cambodia at Ankwar Wat. Surrounded by the ruins of Hindu and Buddhist temples, overtaken by time and decay there was this one small flower that was pushing itself up out of the ground. The starkness of the green leaves and the whiteness of the flowers increased it’s beauty in a world that had been left behind. I took the picture as a sign of determination that anything can flourish regardless of the circumstances.When I walked into the Auditorium for the mandatory staff Meeting in September 2007 I had no idea my world was about to change. I had no idea that all my years in the classroom were about to be revolutionized. I had no idea that I was about to discover my passion. That I was going to begin to push my years of educational pedagogy and understanding in a different direction.How it all began….. It began with a staff meeting, a grade 2 teacher Philippe Lane, a conference, a video and a week’s holiday.
Philippe and a few other teachers had attended a conference in Shanghai called Learning 2.0. It was the brainchild of some IT teachers and they worked hard to pull it together. It was a big success and continues on every year. I was privileged to attend for three years. Anyway, back to that Auditorium at Yew Chung. The teachers that had attended were required to report back to the staff what they had seen and learned. Truthfully, I was not very attentive until Philippe got up to speak and began to share what he had learned.Now you have to remember that I knew Nothing, absolutely nothing about Web 2.0 or as it was often referred to then the Read Write Web. I loved computers but used them strictly for email, to do my banking and find out information.
As part of his presentation Philippe pulled up a video from You Tube, which at that time was not blocked in China, and shared with us a video from a company called Common Craft. It was a simple video and while I can’t remember if this was the exact one he showed us it is one that I discovered a short time later. It was put together in a unique way and explained everything very clearly. My original intention had been to show you the video but instead I will just share the link as I know what it is like to be watching from a part of the world where internet connections are not fast, bandwidth is limited and staring at a blank screen while others watch leads to frustration. But rest assured that the link to this video as well as the Common Craft “…in Plain English” videos will be in the resources.I was fascinated by what I was watching and hearing Philippe share. In all honesty I was jealous that I had not been chosen to go to the conference but then I hadn’t known about the conference so I couldn’t ask. I determined that I was going to find out more about what he had been talking about.The timing couldn’t have been better as we were beginning a week’s holiday in China to celebrate October 1st the National Holiday which commemorated the founding of the People’s Republic of China by Chairman Mao. This gave me the time as it turned out to begin my journey of discovery.
As it turned out I had already booked a three day holiday to Xian China to visit the incredible Terracotta Warriors. It was breath taking and an unbelievable experience. Looking at the pictures I am again struck by discovery. You may not be aware of it, as I wasn’t until I moved to China, that these discovery was made in 1974 by some farmers who were digging a water well. This incredible find was supposed to be the mausoleum of Emperor Qin and work was begun on in it 243 BC and involved 700,000 workers.I have the link to the Wikipedia page on this page.After three days of my vacation in Xi’an I could hardly wait to get back home to Beijing to continue my investigation.
I became obsessed with finding out everything that I could find. This sign truly indicates what my office was like. This picture was actually taken at a museum near the Yangtze River and was closed when we went there. We looked in the windows and it was a huge empty room. I realize now how little I knew but I was willing to learn. I remember starting out with doing a Google Search on Read/Write Web as I thought that was a separate place on the internet. It turns out that there is a blog called that but in actual fact the reference back in 2007 to Read/Write web described Web 2.0. It was an internet that was no longer static where you discovered information and read it but did nothing else but it was the internet evolving into a conversation. Wikipedia itself is a good example of Read/Write web. People contribute to the site and other people can respond or change what is happening.This conference would not be possible without the Read/Write web. We are able to share and though it is still in a lecture format to a certain extent you as the listeners are also participants as you can ask questions, respond to questions in different ways and carry on a conversation adding to each others knowledge.
I began to read blogs but before I could even do that I had to research what a blog was. I had read about it in a newspaper article but I looked up the definition and found out that it was from web log. It had been changed into blogging. I started with The Thinking Stick by Jeff Utrecht as he was one of the founders of the Learning 2.0 Conference. Reading his blog led me to other bloggers that I still follow and introduced me to new terminology and ideas. I have included the list of the bloggers I follow in my resources.I will talk about Vicki and Julie and where they led me a bit later.This image needs to have the reference link but I have been having a hard time finding the original source as it has been used all over the internet without any __________. I am working on it.
As I was reading the Blogs I discovered that there were Podcasts. I didn’t know what a podcast was. I told you I was brand new to this new world I was investigating and discovering!!! So I found out what a podcast was and started to visit the one that interested me the most. It was called Women of Web 2.0. I was fascinated that there were other women out there that might be as passionate about what I was learning as I was. I began to tune in regularly and got to know (just by listening) some women who are still my heroes. Vicki Davis, Cheryl Oakes, Sharon Peters, and Jennifer Wagner.I learned so much and over time the group of women slowly changed and I got to know more people that I could follow like Silva Tolisano who has the incredible Langwitches blog. The show eventually evolved into Women of Web 3.0 and the link that I have included here takes you to the archive of all of the shows. From my understanding they are no longer making new shows but all of the shows from 2006 – 2010 are archived on Ed Talk.One of my new discoveries in the past year is Teacher Cast. It is well worth a visit.
After listening, reading, lurking and making very few comments to contribute to the conversation I decided that I needed to start to blog. To be perfectly honest it has not been an easy journey for me. When I started I was living in China as I mentioned and that really limited what was available. Because I was a Gmail user and loved Google I signed up for a Google blog on Blogger. I had just started to get settled with that when Google pulled out of China and the government blocked all of the Google tools except Gmail. I started to look for another host and found WordPress which I really liked and was still open in China. I got really excited and created two blogs. One a professional blog with the name Teach Less Learn More and a personal blog with the totally unoriginal name Life with Heather.I got settled and Word Press was then blocked in China. By that time I had discovered a wonderful open education blogging site called Edublogs. I was thrilled with it as it was safe, protected and had training. It’s focus was on Education and the classroom. I quickly signed up with my professional blog and moved it over to Edublogs. I was getting ready to incorporate my students into Edublogs when they had to block China due to cyber attacks that were coming from inside China. I decided to keep my professional blog there and use a VPN when I wanted to write.I soon found that I am not a prolific blogger but I do enjoy it. I still think that some of my reasons for not blogging come from intimidation of what to write. I am working on that. My links for my current blogs are listed on this page and will be in the resources.As a few years have passed I started blogging with my students. While I don’t have a class anymore I have kept our last blog active as we had such a great time creating it and learning together.I have also started using a wonderful iPad app called Blogsy which allows me to write and post blogs directly to my blogs. I love it. I also love being in a country where nothing is blocked anymore.
Another tool I discovered was the RSS Reader. Let’s not worry about what it stands for but more what it is used for. It is a way to have information you are interested in Pushed to you rather than you having to go our and Pull it in. I have an iGoogle page where I also have my Google Reader link located. Everyday I am able to check my Google Reader and see if there have been any blog posts written from blogs that I have subscribed for. That means I don’t have to go looking for them they are sent automatically to my Reader.Google Reader is the one I use but it is not by any means the only one. There are Netvibes,
As my journey continued through reading, listening to podcasts and following leads I found out about the K12 Online Conference. This was an eye opener to me. It is an annual free online conference over two weeks in the fall. The 2012 Conference just completed but all of the sessions are archived. The archives for all of the conferences are still available for you to listen to and investigate as well as the resources and websites. I have again learned so much from this conference. The fact that it was free amazed me. I was new to the Web 2.0 world and hadn’t yet learned about the amazing generosity of the educators online.This conference we are attending this evening was a huge boost to me last fall though living in China again brought a few challenges. Edmodo, one of my favourite websites, began annual conferences in 2011. I was able to attend the first one and really enjoyed it but unfortunately this year I was unable to attend as I was flying into Guatemala City on August 8th. There are great communities and archives for Edmodo.If you are not familiar with Edmodo it is a student/teacher secure and closed social networking site. I highly recommend this being one of the first programs you investigate. I could spend an entire session just talking about their amazing work but we must move on.
There were times I definitely felt like this. I was completely surrounded by incredible knowledge and was being overwhelmed by what was available for me to learn, participate in and contribute.This picture was actual taken in Ankwar Wat at Christmas 2010 in one of my favourite temples. The trees have completely taken over the temple and are obscuring what was there originally. To me it is like the knowledge we are gaining every minute and every day.
I was starting to bring the idea of projects into the classroom and my students were eager to participate. The first year we Skyped with classes in Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Korea and the United States. Time zones were always an issue but we made it work. It is amazing what you can do with a microphone, camera, whiteboard and Skype. It was a learning process for all of us but it was fun. I had begun Global Collaboration. The students enjoyed sharing with students from other countries. I will never forget the excited sound that comes when the two classes that are hooking up suddenly see each other on the screen. I was not prepared though for my class of very outgoing, lively students to suddenly become almost mute with shyness.We were part of Silvia Tolisano’s Around the World in 80 Schools project that I believe is still running. We joined reading groups in the Czech Republic and Canada in Edmodo and our students worked together on questions and answers while reading the same book.By far the biggest project we were part of was the Grade 3-5 pilot project for the Flat Classroom. Up until this time Vicki and Julie had run projects for the Middle School and High School but had not yet incorporated the Elementary School. A Week in the Life…. Was born as my class and seven other classes from around the world joined together over a 10 week project to share information with each other. What a huge learning curve it was not only for the students but for the teachers. The biggest take away for me from this experience was the relationships I formed with the other teachers online. I still have not met any of them face to face but consider them dear colleagues.
In the middle of all of this learning I decided that I had finally found something that I wanted to get my Masters degree in. I had wanted my masters for years but had never been in a position to do it. With the onset of online learning I was able to get my Master’s of Education in Integrating Technology totally online and during the summer of 2008 I had to keep working on the program regardless of the fact that I was travelling in Russia, England, Scotland and Ireland. When I couldn’t find a hotel with a internet connection I worked out of Internet Cafes. It was hard but well worth it – both the travelling and the hard work for the degree. I finally completed it in December 2010 while I was in Cambodia and was thrilled.Then I began to look for new challenges and became a Flat Classroom Certified teacher through the Flat Classroom Projects created by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis. What a wonderful program.My learning now tends to be with Webinars and in areas that I am specifically interested in rather than formal learning.
So through my reading and sharing I discovered that the Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis were going to hold the first Flat Classroom Conference in Doha, Qatar where Julie was teaching. I decided I wanted to attend as it coincided nicely with my Chinese New Year vacation. What an exciting time as I attended a conference that didn’t just include teachers but was focused on the students that had come from all over the world. The worked in groups creating ideas for projects. It blew me away to see the kind of collaboration among students who did not speak the same language figuring out ways to work together. They also had members of their groups that were attending virtually. In the upper right hand corner are a group of young men from Oman who I feel blessed have met. I also finally met some online friends face to face.Two years ago the conference was held in Beijing as Julie Lindsay had moved from Qatar to Beijing to teach. It was again an amazing experience. There are two or three conferences coming up and I would highly recommend you as a teacher to check it out. It is a most unusual conference and will ignite a fire in you for collaboration on the global level.I think there are some sessions in this conference that speak directly to the Flat Classroom Project.
Of course there are the Face to Face conferences that are also amazing. I am very excited that I will be able to attend the ISTE 2013 conference in San Antonio. This conference has an attendance of over 20,000 IT educators. I have not been able to attend before due to my teaching schedule but am already registered for San Antonio.I have already mentioned the Flat Classroom conferences and the Learning 2.0 conferences that are happening in Asia each year. After several years in Shanghai the conference was in Beijing this fall and was a huge success.
Of course, being a reader I can not have a presentation about my journey without mentioning books though I do have to mention that of the books shown on this screen I only have hard copies of two of them the others are all digital.The Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds book up in the top left was written by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis about their approach to Global Collaboration. It is an extremely practical book that can be applied to any project you have in mind. I am also honoured to have written small things for the book and to be mentioned. Many of the books shown here also have book clubs that are run for teachers online.
My life line these days are Webinars. By far my favourite right now is Simple K12. It is a wonderful community and well work the cost to be able to receive all of the resources and webinars. Please check it out. Apple is also doing webinars on some of their products. They are presently running a series on Understanding iTunes U. This is also a wonderful resource.The other four sites shown are also incredible resources that I have discovered.
After much encouragement from colleagues family and friends I am beginning to step out on my own. I especially enjoy sharing my journey.
When all of this started and continuing on to today I struggle with how to put it all together. There is so much to learn and so much I want to learn that I often felt very ADD as I skipped from one thing to another. That is the nature of this journey. Within yourself you have to keep yourself open to new possibilities but after a while find a couple of things to focus on and then you can move on. Education is always changing. Pedagogy is always changing. I have been a teacher since 1974 and have seen the philosophy of education go in circles – out with the old, in with the new.One of the best assignments I had to do when I took my Masters was in the first course. I had to write my Philosophy of Education. It forced me, a person who lives in her head, to organize my thoughts and write down on paper what I truly believed. I was amazed and impressed with what I wrote and figured out what I believed. I recommend you do it also.
I have been blessed to come from a family that reveres life long learning. From a young child I knew that education was important and that I was to go forward with it continually always learning not settling. My inspiration comes from many sources but especially from the two ladies pictured above. The woman on the chair is my Aunt Iris who is the oldest sister of my mother Elaine sitting on the floor. I took this picture five years ago when they were 92 and 83. I am blessed that they are both still with me though they both now live in retirement homes.Why are they my inspiration? My Aunt Iris is a great, great grandmother. She raised a family of four, has faced the lost of a child, a grandchild, her husband but never has lost hope. At the age of 50 after her family was all out of the house she went back to school and became a teacher. She taught Grade One for 15 years. After retirement she traveled with an organization called Elderhostels and learned about everything from the architecture of Toronto, ancient literature and the museums of London. She raised angora goats on her 2 acre property, learned to shear them, card the wool and on her huge weaving frames upstairs made beautiful blankets. She has never stopped learning and having an interest in the world around her. At 97 she still has a wonderfully inquisative mind and is waiting for me to come home to tell her all about Guatemala.My mother, raised two daughters and at 38 started completing her high school credits that she had missed due to World War 2 when she quit and went with her twin sister and worked in a factory building airplanes. At 42 she fulfilled a life long dream to become a nurse and she continued to work until she retired at 62 with her husband and moved up north to help build a log cabin. She continued to read and is fascinated by the computer often saying that she thinks she was born too early. She is my strongest supporter even if it means I am out following my dream away from family.They are the only two left now of a family that was driven to be live long learners. I am blessed that this desire has been passed down and I can still look at them and realize that I am never too old.So we have now come to the end of this presentation but certainly not the end of my journey. I am involved in a chapter of incorporating iPads into our school, I have a wonderful new job in a great country. I am learning to drive in Guatemala City though I spend much of my time lost. It is all a journey and a time of growth.My wish for you is that you will make a decision to move forward. I have shared my journey but that may not be yours. Figure out where you are on the journey and begin to move forward. Do not be afraid….we have all had to start somewhere. No one’s journey will be the same but hopefully I have given you some places to start.
I would love to talk to you.
All of the resources plus more are on the website listed above. I hope you visit.Thank you so much for your time and sharing it with me.
Global education conference
I’m not Neil Armstrong but my firstsmall step rocked my world….
My Journey to GlobalCollaboration Heather Davis Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Yew Chung International School of Beijing Grade 3 and 4 teacher
American School of GuatemalaTechnology Integration Specialist Grades 2-5
How it all began…A staff meeting, a teacher Philippe Lane, aconference, a video and a week’s holiday.
Learning 2.0 Shanghai, China http://www.learning2.asia
The Video Blogs in Plain EnglishCreated by Common Craft
Xi’an and the Terracotta Warriors--3 days away from the computer visiting a wonderful Historicalsite but……
Blogging Began to read blogs - The Thinking Stick - Always Learning – Kim Cofino - David Warlick - Vicki Davis – Cool Cat Teacher - Julie Lindsay
I would love to talk to you. Heather Davis – email@example.com Professional Blog – http://teachlesslearnmore.edublogs.org Personal Blog – http://lifewithheather.wordpress.com Wiki – http://workshopswithheather.wikispaces.com Website: http://www.lifewithheather13.com Twitter: @heatherd1951 Skype: heatheratschool
RESOURCEShttp://workshopswithheather.wikispaces.com/ Everything that was mentioned in this session is linked at the following site. Please visit and enjoy.